Publisher: Loose Id LLC (March 17, 2015)
Amazon Kindle: Fourth and Long
Irus Beaumont, cornerback for the Highlanders, has an issue with his nemesis: wideout for the Pirates, Jackson McCoy. Partly jealous over Jackson’s skill and ability to scrub coverage, Irus also struggles against an unbearable attraction to the receiver. Firmly ensconced in the closet, Irus also has a no football player rule, leaving his desires for Jackson unfulfilled. Anti-gay sentiment in the league keeps Irus closeted, even though he’d rather be out and proud.
When Jackson McCoy suffers a gay bashing at the hands of his team mates after winning the national championship, he finds himself traded to the Highlanders. Spring training brings out Jackson’s competitive nature, eliciting the aggression of his new team’s cornerback, Irus Beaumont.
In practice, Irus hurts Jackson badly. The injury places Jackson on the reserve roster. Jacks has plenty of time to contemplate his life, career, and his attraction to the sexy cornerback. Off to Orlando for the best rehab where guilt inspires Irus to call him every evening, Jackson can’t stop thinking about Irus, or what the season holds for his team.
Three Weeks Later, Post Practice
Highlanders’ Locker Room
Fuck, I’m sore. Pulling my practice gear off at my locker, I wince, feeling my side scream in protest. My body wants me to simply lie down and not move. Damn, Irus hits hard. Harder when antagonized, that’s for sure, but he hadn’t slammed me like this at the charity event. Jesus no, that shit felt like foreplay compared to the hits I’ve been taking for the last three weeks.
The latest bruise must be widening. My whole left side is on fire. I peel off my undershirt. The bruise, already darkening, is stark against my pale skin. I breathe in deep. There’s a hitch in my movement. A hiss escapes my teeth against my will. Manhandled by Irus Beaumont. Son of a bitch. Why does this shit turn me on? Tuck that away, Jacks. No, I need to get pissed over this shit.
Granted, the Highlanders were fined three hundred thousand dollars the previous season for having full-contact practices. Coach Bryant doesn’t take unnecessary risks with us.
“You do realize we’re on the same team, Iris?” I ask, the snark bleeding through like the bruise beneath my skin.
“Fuck you, Golden Boy. I’ve had enough of your shit.”
Irus tackles me from across the locker room. Man, the second hit of the day where this asshole takes me off my feet and three yards back, I swear. I’m ready for him this time, taking him to the ground, rolling over him, all knees and elbows. Irus grunts, swearing in guttural spurts as we wrestle.
This guy is really trying to hurt me. A lot of anger must’ve built up since postseason. Or is this something different? Beaumont’s anger hasn’t lessened. If anything, it’s gotten worse. You think he’d be over it by now. I was faster. I still am. Today I beat him off the line consistently, pissing him off.
“When your emotions are in control on the field,” I said, “then you’re out of control, man.”
Something I learned the hard way my rookie season. I tried to tell Beaumont. He refused my sage advice.
Damn. Once again, I find myself in a ground and pound situation in a locker room. To think that I thought of this place as utopian. Beaumont’s the only one with a problem, though. I’ve got to figure out how to solve this dilemma.
His knee smacks my inner thigh. Another bruise, I’m sure. I wonder if sex with him would leave as many bruises. “Ow. Too close to the fucking jewels, man!” I holler.
“Fuck you.” He grunts.
“So literate,” I whisper in his ear as I wrap my legs around him, trying to gain an advantage in leverage. My thighs squeeze him against me, pulling him inside the arc of any punch he might throw, taking him off balance.
Irus redoubles his efforts and I have difficulty holding him. There’s real rage in his eyes. His dark skin is slick, sweaty from practice, and he smells of grass and dirt. A heady mix. I feel him swelling. His dick grows hard as aggression morphs into arousal. My body contemplates the urge to grind against him, so curious to find out what an angry fuck from Irus Beaumont would feel like, but my mind resists. Self-preservation holds my lust in check. Football players are my weakness. Especially the aggressive ones.
The guys pull him off. He’s only in his jock, thick and barely contained, nappy curls sweet-talking their way up his black skin. A gleaming head of circumcised cock pokes from his waistband, so dark against the white fabric. My heart stutters. Jesus, I know I’m weak, but damn it.
I jump up, throwing my arms around him, covering his body so no one sees his hard-on. I bury my hand in his tangle of dreads, holding him still. A fist hits my thigh. Heavy panting fills my ear. I’ve a wild animal in my grasp, and I pray no one is savvy to what’s going on between us right now. Or what’s crushed between us.
“It’s all good,” I say to Eldridge. “We got this, man. Just gotta work shit out. Leave us alone.”
Some of the guys move away, knowing how it is when two dudes are battling through some shit, stuff spilling over from the field. Eldridge watches from not far away. He’s ready to step in if he needs to. More for Beaumont’s sake than mine, I suspect.
Up in his ear, I whisper, “You owe me, man.”
“Fuck you,” he pants. His jaw clenches. The short curls along his jawline glisten with sweat. God, I want to lick it off. I let go but don’t move an inch. His breathing slows with each breath. There’s still hate in his eyes. “It’s all your fault.”
Beaumont pushes me away, his dick back under control, and he heads to the showers. I wait until he’s done, sitting at my locker, thinking. Not sure what’s my fault. His erection? Sometimes it happens when wrestling. The body mistakes the stimulation.
Don’t take this as attraction, Jackson. I can see the headlines now: JACKSON MCCOY SLEEPS HIS WAY THROUGH LEAGUE. PICTURES AT ELEVEN.
True, I miss the sex. I’d like to say it’s been a miserable three weeks without Terry, but I’d be lying, except for when I’m home alone in bed. At those times, I find myself thinking less of the big quarterback and more of the supple black skin of my team’s rising-star cornerback. Part of me wanted to take Irus Beaumont home that day so many weeks ago, instead of Branson. Take Beaumont home and let him do sweet, evil things to me. Wake up sore and sated with his long arms wrapped around me.
Jesus, what am I doing to myself? Time to think of something else.
Practice has been going great. I’m learning their system. The quarterback and I have fantastic timing. Mal’s a nice guy. He doesn’t berate me when I mess up a route or the ball doesn’t quite get to me. Mal just says we’ll get it next time, and we move on to another route. In an hour or two, we try the incompletion again, making it work. It’s timing. Our timing. The receiver has to be on the same page as the quarterback. Mal’s nothing like Terry.
Terry. I’m spending less time thinking about him. Too busy studying plays. I’m here late with the jugs machine churning out football after football. For the most part I catch them with sure hands, until Coach finds me and sends me home.
I look around. Everyone’s cleared out. I grab my towel. The shower room’s empty. My gut clenches. The smells of bleach, mildew, sweat, and soap assault my senses. My heart’s running a fucking marathon. I hate locker room showers.
“Fuck this shit.” I toss my towel in the bin and go change. I’ll shower at home. Outside, the sun’s low on the horizon, and I head to my Jeep.
“Hey, Jackson,” Haines calls from across the parking lot.
I turn to find him jogging toward me. Some of the other guys are milling around their cars. While I wait for Haines to catch up to me, I toss my bag in the back of my rig.
“Some of the guys go to this little bar down the road on Thursdays. Team building. Wanna come? There’s usually a band.”
“A band, huh? On a Thursday?”
“Yeah, usually a tribute band for some old rock group. The guys hate it, but the owner makes sure the locals give us our space. The crowd’s usually cool anyway.”
“If you guys go on Thursdays, how come this is the first I’m hearing about it?”
Haines turns a few shades of red before he speaks. “Well, you know how it is. Gotta get to know you first, right? You gonna come?”
“I think I’ll just head home. I still need to shower.”
“Why didn’t you use the facility showers?”
“I prefer my own,” I say.
“Come on, McCoy. Give the guys a chance to get to know you. Buy you a drink.”
“I don’t drink much, but I guess I can hang out, if you don’t mind the stench.”
“You don’t stink!” With a big kid grin, Haines heads back to his car, hollering over his shoulder for me to follow him. I hop into my Jeep and hit the road, tailing the line of cars only a few blocks down the road to what looks like a dark wooden shack with few neon signs in the dingy windows. Gilliam’s Tavern. Interesting.
The guys hold the door for me. Inside, the room is dark, with long tables at one end. They border a tiny dance floor and small stage. There’s a U-shaped bar directly ahead and pool tables to my left. Haines turns to the right, heading toward one of the long tables. A band is playing. The lead singer, a redhead with square glasses and a guitar slung over his shoulder moans something into the mic. Obviously sharing guitar duties with the lanky blond whose face is hidden behind a curtain of long, stringy hair. The song is one I recognize. A Rolling Stones tune. “Paint It Black.”
“Haines, why you always gotta sit by the band? Some old fogey Muzak playing,” says Rhodes.
Brewster chimes in, “Give the guy a break. He can’t help that his momma’s white.”
“Shut up, Brew. Leave my mom out of this.” Haines settles into a chair. I sit opposite him and check out the band. I swear I know the guy singing. A smile spreads across my face as I make the connection. High school can come back and bite a guy in the ass. Yep. Doug Strathen, local band geek at my high school. Wow. Small fucking world. Maybe I should split. Haines seems happy to have me here, though. Doug might not recognize me. I can hope. Don’t need a fuck buddy from the past causing me grief.
“Shit, Haines, your momma be fine,” says Rhodes as he sits.
“Yeah, she must be the reason white meat over here can’t rap.” Brewster laughs.
“I can rap. You all know I can rap,” Haines says.
“No, you can’t,” Brewster says as he raises a finger to the waitress. His silent order produces a pitcher of beer and four glasses.
“Yes, I can.”
“Boy, you can’t freestyle to save your soul.” Rhodes smacks Haines on the shoulder.
Haines grins. “You’re right. I can’t.”
All the guys laugh. Haines pours me a beer as the singer finishes his song. Doug fiddles with his guitar and starts another Stones tune.
“I love this music,” says Haines. “Grew up listening to Stones and Zeppelin.”
“So, what you’re telling me is, you’re not really black?” I ask.
“Oh, you gonna start in on me too, huh?”
Brewster leans forward, like he’s gonna tell a secret, and says, “Haines is a sperm bank baby.”
I spit my beer across the table, nailing Haines in the face. Rhodes about falls out of his chair laughing.
“Are you shitting me?” I ask as I mop up beer with a paper towel.
That certainly wasn’t my smoothest moment.
Haines swipes at his face with a napkin. “Yeah, it’s true. All I know is my dad is black and has some sort of genius IQ.”
“Whoa, missed out on that chromosome, didn’t ya?” says Rhodes.
Again the guys laugh. It’s an easy ribbing among friends.
“So,” Rhodes says. “Since you can’t rap, then I think your rookie job is to get up and sing some of this shit every day at lunch.”
“Man, I thought I was done with all that shit.”
“You spent half your rookie year on some backup roster somewhere. Now you’re here. Dues got to be paid, son.”
Brewster laughs. “I had to do it my rookie year.”
The band finishes the song and heads offstage for a break. I don’t even notice Doug crossing the room until he calls out to me, “Jackson? Jackson McCoy?”
I stand to greet him. “Hey, Dougie, how you been?”
“Wow.” He puts his hand on my shoulder and squeezes. “It’s been a long time, Jacks. What’re you up to now?”
Rhodes laughs. “Are you kidding?”
“He’s the best wideout in the league,” Haines says.
“Football,” I clarify for Doug. “Professional football.”
“No shit. You always loved that football thing. More than a lot of other things.” Doug still has a grip on my shoulder. My gut tightens. I don’t need an old high school flame coming out of the woodwork right now. Discreetly, I slide out his grasp. Doug drops his hand, but a sweet smile graces his pretty face. Yeah, Doug is pretty, in a nerdy sort of way. So much more filled out as a man than as a teen.
“You wanna sit?” I ask. Don’t know why. Part of me panics when he smiles again and says yes.
“How do you two know each other?” Haines asks.
The waitress brings Doug a Guinness, and he sips it before answering. He licks the foam from his pink upper lip. Yeah, I did have a thing for him. Didn’t go anywhere, but he was a nice escape.
“Jacks and I went to high school together.” Doug glances at me. “He was my savior.”
“Savior? How?” Haines asks.
“I’m sure you guys wouldn’t understand, being athletic and all, but Jacks was the jock with a heart. I was constantly bullied.”
Don’t say why. Please, I silently beg him not to out me.
“Jacks stepped in and put a stop to it.”
“You were bullied?” Haines asks.
Doug nods and sips his Guinness.
“I was bullied too,” Haines says softly, his dusky cheeks flaming pink, highlighting the faint acne scars.
Doug appears rueful. “No offense, but I find that hard to believe.”
“It’s true. We all were, in a way, right, Brew?”
“If you mean being treated like the league’s asshole, then yeah.” Brewster leans back in his chair. “I was a runner. From home. School. A fuckup. My older brother’s football coach took me in and straightened me out. People made fun of me because I used to have a real bad stutter. Coach Pennachek paid for my speech therapy. Now I’m a smooth talker.”
“I’m the only one drafted in the first round,” says Rhodes. “Nobody else in the receiving corps can say that. You all be misfits.” Rhodes laughs, but the guys don’t take offense.
“That’s right. We be misfits, but we’re misfits together.” Haines looks at me like it’s my turn or something. “What about you, Jacks? You a misfit?”
Doug glances at me. He knows what kind of misfit I am.
“Um…well, my mom was sick a lot. Breast cancer. Just me and her, mostly. Spent time in foster care. Nothing really. Don’t think that makes me a misfit, I suppose.”
Doug clears his throat and says, “Oh yeah, Jacks was a misfit. Instead of hanging out with the jocks, this guy came over to my house and hung out with us band geeks.”
“Oh, wait a minute,” I say. Doug’s gonna out me. I can tell by the grin on his face.
“Yeah, he made all of us cool by being the lead singer in our Rolling Stones tribute band.”
“Bitch!” I slam my head on the table, throwing my arms over myself. I can hear Doug laughing. Undoubtedly revenge for how I broke up with him.
Everyone at the table laughs at me too. I look up and Haines is in tears, he’s laughing so damn hard. “A tribute band? And you all made fun of me?”
“Hey, you’re the one who can’t rap or much less hold a tune,” I remind him.
“All right,” says Rhodes. “I got this shit figured out. Haines, if you can get your boy here to get up on that stage and sing us a song, then you’re off the hook.”
Haines looks at me all hopeful.
“No,” I say. “You laughed at me.”
“Come on, be a hero,” Doug says. “Make another nerd into a cool dude.”
“Haines is cool enough.”
“Come on, McCoy, do a brother a solid.” Haines can be damn persuasive.
Must be the gold-green eyes. I point to Rhodes. “I do this and white boy over there no longer has to stand on a chair and rap badly.”
“Hey,” Haines says with mock hurt in his voice.
“I do enjoy his freestyle,” Rhodes says.
“He sounds like he has Tourette’s,” I say. “Oh, and Dougie, you’re a bitch. Thanks for telling everyone I can sing.” That particular secret I managed to keep from my Pirates teammates. Does make me feel good, though, to know the rookie hazing in the Highlanders’ locker room is nonviolent.
“I may be a bitch,” says Doug, “but it’s going to be fun having you sing with me again.”
“I never said I was doing it.”
Doug rises from his chair, claps a hand on my shoulder, and leans down to say, “You’re the best kind of guy I know, Jacks. One who wants to help people. I’ll meet you onstage. Let me go round up the guys.”
“You owe me.” I point to Haines and stand.
He looks at me seriously. “Does this mean you’re gonna make the Highlanders cool too?”
I glance at Rhodes and Brewster. “I think we can do that together, don’t you?”
“I’m in,” Haines says.
Sure, I want to smack him for making me get up on stage, but as I step up to the mic, I remember what a great escape Doug’s garage band provided for me. The only other place besides the football field where I had fun. Where I was happy.
The band files in, and Doug joins me. “What song did you have in mind?”
My mind goes blank. Shit. “I don’t know.”
Doug looks sure of himself and says, “I know what song you should sing.” He steps up to the mic. We’re so close his sleeve brushes my bare arm. “This is a song off the Rolling Stones’ Bridges to Babylon album called ‘Already Over Me.’”
Oh yeah. That’s a good song. Easy. I know all the words. I still feel rattled. Been a while since I sang it, but I remember the song. Please don’t let me fuck this up. I’ll never hear the end of it.
My nerves settle down when the first gentle strings from the guitar whisper through the stacks. Until Irus Beaumont walks into the bar with Eldridge, followed by some guy I don’t know, and I almost forget to sing.
Seeing Irus right now is too much. The memory of his hard-on pressed against me is indelible. A phantom feeling scored into my body. I close my eyes, shutting out his dark gaze, and let my voice slip out in a tremulous seduction. The song soft but filled with angst. The sadness of a jilted lover. All my pain seeps into the lyrics. I can’t help but think of Branson. Even as I open my eyes and my gaze lands on Beaumont, I wonder if I’ve been a fool. This song speaks of fools. Men played by heartless lovers.
Was Branson a heartless lover, or was I just his fool?
Irus sees the guys at the table. He starts walking over until he realizes I’m onstage singing. He stops dead in the center of the room.
“…so cold…so cruel…”
I was never Branson’s man. Never anyone’s man.
The song laments over love and ecstasy.
Images of Branson naked next to me are replaced by Irus, and I feel heat flush through me. I sing out my loneliness. My body moves to the music. Doug leans against me to join in the chorus.
Makes me feel worse because I knew Doug loved me in high school.
“…al—re–ady over me…already over me…”
Irus spins away. His dark hand smacks the bar to get service fast.
Oh yeah, I’d worship at the shrine of Irus.
Never had a love that was divine. Always just sex.
An image of myself on my knees for Irus leaves me mystified.
Yes. I’m a fool.
Author Bio: Michele Micheal Rakes lives in a small town in the shadow of a big mountain. She works as a surgical technologist assisting in the removal of tonsils and testicles. She has three grown children, two psychotic Egyptian Mau’s, a husband with hair down to his ass, two Harley’s, and a ferret named Teeny Tiny Ferret Feet (husband insists her name Little Feet, we all know he’s wrong).
Links to reach Michele Rakes:
4/24/2015 Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Cia's Stories
4/25/2015 Love Bytes, The Purple Rose Tea House
4/26/2015 Gay Media Reviews, Divine Magazine, Because Two Men Are Better Than One
4/27/2015 Man2ManTastic.blogspot, Gay.Guy.Reading and Friends, The Novel Approach
4/28/2015 Wicked Faerie's Tales and Reviews, Two Chicks Obsessed with Books, Elisa -My reviews and Ramblings
4/29/2015 Bike Book Reviews, Drops of Ink
4/30/2015 Jill Prand, MM Good Book Reviews
5/1/2015 Bayou Book Junkie, BFD Book Blog, Sid Love
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